For the most part I love my neighbors and my neighborhood. Everyone is friendly and we all get along. We all have different hobbies and even though I’m just one of the few boaters, no one seems to mind that we tend to disappear on most weekends in the summer. I do get teased a little when it comes to my boat, however. My neighbors think it’s funny that even when my boat is sitting quietly in its slip you can still find me doing something on it. I like to tinker and I also like to keep her clean. I guess that’s just the motorcycle rider in me; I love a good shine.
But there is one neighbor that I’ve always seemed to bump heads with. I think it’s required by law that we all have to have that one person in our neighborhood who absolutely drives us crazy. For me it’s the guy that is just around the corner from us. We get along okay and he’s really not a bad guy. But for years I would cringe when I’d see him walking toward me as we prepared for another fun weekend on the boat.
He reminded me of the brother-in-law in the movie [Field of Dreams] that just didn’t get it. The brother-in-law couldn’t see the baseball players and because of this he didn’t get along with Kevin Costner’s character. When it came to boating, simply put my neighbor just didn’t get it. He would come over to my house and try to convince me that boats aren’t worth the hassle. He’d comment on our short boating season and any other negative thing he could think of just to try and convince me that boating was a waste of my time and resources. Oh yeah, he was quite the buzz kill to say the least.
At first I’d get sucked into his debates—you know, those little witty jabs at each other where no one ever really wins. Finally it just got to the point where he thought he was being funny, but I’d avoid him just to spare the sarcasm. I guess I felt it was pointless to try and convince him otherwise and I no longer had the strength or energy to argue with the guy.
But this all changed this past spring as I was loading for the weekend and I caught my neighbor approaching out of the corner of my eye. I just gave my wife that look of, “Here we go again,” but this conversation was a lot different than our past talks. He just kind of looked at me and smiled and made small talk about it being a good weekend for boating. Then he said to my surprise, “I probably could have bought three boats for what our son has cost us.”
My neighbor’s son had fallen into the wrong crowd and distanced himself from his family by getting involved in drugs and alcohol. It had cost this family more than just money as they tried rehab as well as other programs to help their son overcome his addictions.
I’ve always known what boating can do to bring and keep a family together, but I had never quite looked at it the same way my neighbor was seeing it. In his eyes he had made the connection that because we are boaters, we’ve stayed closer as a family.
Since that day my conversations with my neighbor have become a lot friendlier and even though he still hasn’t taken me up on my offer to take him and his family out with us, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’d like to get him out on our boat some day so he can truly see through his own eyes the enjoyment that boating has to offer. But even if that day never comes, I at least know that those uncomfortable and awkward moments that we used to share are behind us and my faith in the boating lifestyle has been renewed because of my neighbor.